Blog 2018 – The Year Programmatic Went Outdoor

2018 – The Year Programmatic Went Outdoor

Posted on Dec 19, 2018

In advertising, we’re quite used to people making grand statements about how this is ‘the year of x.’  Famously, a number of years were pronounced ‘the year of mobile’ before the iPhone burst onto the scene and really made it so.

The same could be said for outdoor advertising – also known as out of home or OOH – finally embracing programmatic. Versus other media of course, OOH had some extra hurdles in the way before even getting close to that goal, given the investment and infrastructure required in moving from paper and glue to programmable screens.

At Platform161, we have been preaching the virtue of programmatic outdoor for quite some time – since all the way back in 2014 in fact, when we handled one of the very first programmatic outdoor campaigns for Coca-Cola.

What has changed since is threefold:

  • We have seen broad acceptance and adoption of programmatic buying across the industry, starting with desktop and mobile, but increasingly also in audio, video – in fact all channels. This ‘programmification’ of media makes programmatic outdoor all the more attractive to brands – meaning they can easily run and optimize OOH campaigns concurrently with mobile, TV – you name it.
  • Additionallly, the growing adoption of HTML5 as a standard across programmable media (including outdoor) means adapting creative is easier, faster – and enhances further that cross-media appeal.
  • One of the great promises of programmatic was always around data. And the possibilities here for outdoor are huge. That applies most obviously to audience targeting, but actually just as much to creative messaging also. Weather, traffic, location, social media – all kinds of environmental factors become opportunities for personalization. (This last point in particular is covered in detail in our whitepaper on outdoor.) 

But where is the real evidence – the real proof it’s not just another ‘year of mobile’ for OOH?

Reports in the press are a strong indicator. In September, Digiday spoke about outdoor experiencing its ‘programmatic moment.’ Silicon Valley news bible Recode also wrote about billboards experiencing their ‘heyday in a digital world.’ And last but not least, in November no more influential title than the Economist described outdoor as a ‘booming’ medium:

“DOOH providers can deliver ads for coffee when it is cold and fizzy drinks when it is warm. Billboards can be programmed to show ads for allergy medication when the air is full of pollen.”

All of this positive PR of course had long-time outdoor cheerleaders like ourselves… cheering once again. The proof is not just in such coverage, but also the campaigns we have seen in 2018 on our own platform. Let’s look at two examples of major brands embracing (and benefiting from) programmatic outdoor right now.

Example one: as covered by Mobile Marketer, Pepsi Max used outdoor to give a brilliant new twist to its classic taste test. Platform161, Broadsign and Exterion Media all came together to effectively retarget people taking part in the test via mobile, on programmatic-enabled screens.

Likewise, for Toyota, alongside our partner Awarion, programmatic OOH proved so impactful in one market, it meant the car maker now plans to dedicate a quarter of its budget to this channel in future.

“[The campaign] used real-time data feeds around traffic patterns, fuel consumption, noise levels and currency exchange rates to trigger dynamic creative. The data allowed Toyota to display relevant creative messages while highlighting the unique features of the hybrid engine”

As AdExchanger also notes, the campaign resulted in a “44% year over year increase in hybrid motor sales in Turkey, making it the highest selling car in the country according to the Turkish Automotive Distributers Association.”

Of course, even the most successful case studies in the world, and positive press stories don’t guarantee 2018 was the year of anything. But going into next year, it looks more likely than ever that smart brands and agencies grasp the programmatic outdoor opportunity for what it is. A great way to run impactful campaigns in innovative new ways – both in terms of the creative opportunities around data now available, as well as how that joins up with other media.

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